For the past year, we’ve all been following the SAT journey of one of our TestRockers, Floor. When we met her, Floor was just a junior trying to figure out how to balance academics, extra-curriculars, college applications, and test prep. Now we are proud to bring you the final chapter of her journey and share the amazing results she was able to achieve with TestRocker in the video below. After studying on our program, Floor was able to increase her SAT score by 590 points! We’re extremely proud of her, and happy we could play such a pivotal role in her college applications process!
Click here to view the rest of Floor's Journey
Here at TestRocker we are excited to announce a review of our program on the Mommy Bunch Blog. Here's a sneak peek:
As a teacher, education is obviously a high priority item for me, my kids, and any students I may have along the way. I have always had a love of education, and learning new things has been easy for me. In fact, many many moons ago when I took my own ACT test I barely prepared and ended up with the highest score in my school. Things have just always come easy for me. My best friend would get frustrated because she could spend hours studying and still not recall things as easily as I could (I think I have a partial photographic memory…seriously).
I know that recalling information is not always easy for everyone, especially in a high stress environment like a timed test that could potentially decide your higher education future. So when Test Rocker approached me to check out the ACT prep program I knew I had to see what it was all about.
Obviously I have no need to pass the ACTs again, but I figured that I would be able to give an objective opinion on what the program has to offer since I am in education myself, and I’ve seen plenty of programs over the years.
Click here to read the rest of this review
SAT scores have started rolling in. Students, parents, and counselors spend so much time focusing on getting a good score that they don’t really consider what comes next. Here’s what we recommend:
Understand your score
The first step in this process is understanding your SAT score. After taking the SAT you will receive a score report. This report provides a summary of your performance on the SAT critical reading, math, and writing sections. In addition to providing your score for each section, a breakdown of the number correct, incorrect, and omitted answers for each section is also provided. This is meant to help you understand your performance on the test, and identify any opportunities to improve.
Determine whether you need to retake the SAT
Once you understand your SAT score, considering the following questions will help you determine whether you need to retake the SAT
- Compare your score to the score ranges for your chosen colleges, is your score competitive?
- Based on your own abilities, did you get the highest score possible?
- Do you have time before your college application deadlines to take the SAT again and have those scores included in your application?
- Would your score on any of the section improve if you retook the SAT?
If you answered yes to the first two questions, then you probably don’t need to retake the SAT.
If you answered no to the first two questions, and your answer to either one of the last two questions was a yes. It might make sense to look into retaking the SAT or considering the ACT.
Whatever your ultimate decision be sure to run it by your guidance counselor and another advisor you trust.
Decide who should receive your scores
There are two ways to decide on your score receivers. You can either choose your score recipients during SAT registration or after.
Every time you register for the SAT four free score reports are included. Selecting your score recipients during registration means that your scores will be submitted to colleges as soon as they are available. This might be the best option for students who are up against a tight deadline and sure of their ability to do better on their next SAT. Look into this if you are planning to retake your SAT.
To add score recipients after you have already registered for the SAT involves a fee in most cases ($11.25 per score send). The benefit of waiting is that you get to review your scores before sending scores to colleges. Through Score Choice you also decide which scores colleges see, if you have taken the SAT more than once.
Decide which SAT scores to submit
While most colleges consider only your best scores, you have some choice in which scores to submit. CollegeBoard offers students Score Choice. Score choice allows students who have taken the test multiple times to submit only the test scores from a specific test date.
Some Colleges offer students the option to Superscore the SAT. Superscoring means that colleges will only consider the highest score from each SAT section when evaluating an applicant’s test scores. To learn more about Superscoring and Score Choice click here.
Have more questions about the SAT? Follow us on Facebook and ask us directly!
What is the ACT?
The ACT is a standardized college admissions test that is accepted by all 4 year colleges and universities in the United States. The test is one of the tools colleges use to assess the academic ability and potential of all their applicants. Since the test is standardized, it helps level the playing field so that students from all backgrounds are evaluated with the same criteria.
Why should I take the ACT?
There are many reasons to take the ACT, here are a few:
- Most universities require a standardized test score, (either the SAT or ACT) as part of the college application. Submitting your ACT score will allow you to fulfill this requirement.
- Consider taking the ACT if you have done well on the PLAN or have a PSAT or SAT score that does not match your school performance.
- In addition to using your ACT score to make admissions decisions the ACT can also be used to figure out your optimal course placement, provide academic advising, and inform scholarship and loan decisions.
What is the ACT scored out of?
For each of the ACT’s four sections you receive a score between 1-36, these scores are then averaged to arrive at your composite score. Another bonus of taking the ACT is that unlike the SAT there is no negative marking for incorrect answers. (Learn more about differences between the SAT and ACT by clicking here).
What is tested on the ACT and how long is the test?
The ACT tests your math problem-solving, reading comprehension, and writing skills. The test has 215 questions and is 3 hours and 25 minutes long (including the optional 30 minute writing section).
Number of Questions
Usage/ mechanics and rhetorical skills
Arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics, probability, trigonometry, logarithms, Complex Numbers, and Matrices/Circle & Ellipse Equations
Skills required in analyzing natural science based passages: interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem solving
1 essay prompt
Usage/mechanics and rhetorical skills
When should I take the ACT?
We advise our students to take the ACT at least twice: once during the spring of their junior year, and again in the fall of their senior year. In the United States the test is administered 6 times a year. (February, April, June, September, October, and December)
How do I sign up for the ACT?
You can register for the ACT online at www.actstudent.org/regist/. Be sure to register well in advance of your test deadline and double check the proximity of the testing center you choose.
Do I need to prepare for the ACT? When should I start preparing for the ACT?
Yes, you should definitely prepare for the ACT. Start by doing the best you can on the work assigned to you in the classroom. Once you have a handle on the academics work to identify the right test-prep for you outside of the classroom.
Everyone has the ability to do well and you want your ACT score to match your potential so that you can get into the best schools. Start preparing for the ACT any time after your sophomore year. You should prepare ahead of time – don’t leave it until the last minute.
Can I use a calculator on the ACT?
You may use a calculator on the ACT’s mathematics section.
How much does it cost to take the ACT?
While prices vary based on how many colleges you want to send your scores to and whether you want to take the writing section, the ACT (no writing) is $36.50. The ACT plus writing is $52.50. More pricing information can be found here.
What is the PLAN? When should I take the PLAN? How is the PLAN different from the ACT?
Similar to the PSAT, the PLAN is a practice test for the ACT. It both shows you what the ACT will be like, and provides an indication of how you will perform on the actual ACT. You should take the PLAN during your sophomore year of high school. The only real differences between the PLAN and the ACT are that the PLAN is a shorter test and does not include a writing section.
Enjoyed these tips? Want to learn more about the ACT? Register for our free upcoming Rocking the ACT webinar series today! Click here.
It’s been well over a month since you took the PSAT and you’re probably starting to wonder the same things as your peers when it comes to your scores, plans and what you should be doing between now and the end of the year. So here is a list of questions and answers I most frequently hear about the PSAT process:
1. When will I know my PSAT scores?
Your PSAT score report will be shipped to your school in early December. Your guidance counselor will provide you with a copy of your score report.
2. What should I be doing between now and December?
Start preparing: Now that you’ve gotten a taste of what the PSAT was like, start preparing for the SAT/ACT. Remember, things are only going to get busier from here, so the earlier you start the better. Take some time to become clear on what your strengths and weaknesses are – you can take a diagnostic test here to get a customized study plan. Do your research on which prep method will work best for you based on your needs, schedule, funds and other circumstances.
3. What all is included in the PSAT score report?
The PSAT is basically an indicator of your readiness for the SAT as well as college. Your score report will include:
a) Your PSAT scores by section: Critical Reading, Math and Writing. The score for each section is based on a scale of 20 – 80. Add a 0 to each section score and that’s what your predicted SAT score is. Here’s a quick table to make that clearer:
PSAT Score (out of 80)
Predicted SAT Score
(out of 800)
b) Percentiles: This is a number that tells you that how many percent of students you scored higher than. For example, if the number says 55%, it means that you scored higher than 55% of the PSAT takers from your grade level who took the test last year.
c) Skill Breakdown: This section breaks down your skills to a subject/topic level to show you strengths and weaknesses. You should look at this section carefully to understand where you need to improve.
4. Do colleges and universities see my PSAT scores?
No, your PSAT scores are not reported to colleges and universities. Nor are they included in your transcript.
5. What is the NMSQT, and what does my PSAT score have to do with it?
NMSQT is short for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation looks at your PSAT score to see if you could possibly qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. If you do qualify, your school will be notified in February next year.
6. What should I do with my scores once I have them?
a) Don’t freak out: First of all, don’t freak out about your scores. Let it be a reality check to make you realize that the college process has begun, and it’s time to get serious. If you are discouraged by your PSAT results, click here for a few tips.
b) Make a plan: Meet with your counselor and parents to create a plan. Figure out when you will be taking the SAT/ACT or both (click here to see which test is right for you), see if the schools you’re interested in require subject tests and plan for those as well. Click here to view TestRocker’s Guide to the Most Commonly Asked Questions About The SAT.
c) Start researching schools: Use your PSAT scores as a way to start looking at which schools might be a good fit for you, but don’t let your scores limit your selection of universities. If you prepare adequately, chances are your score will in fact increase.
7. What’s different between the SAT and PSAT?
Essay: Although you didn’t have to write an essay on the PSAT, the SAT essay section counts for 1/3 of your Writing score.
Duration: The PSAT is 2 hours & 10 minutes while the SAT is 3 hours & 45 minutes.
Number of Sections:
- Critical Reading: PSAT – 2, SAT - 3
- Mathematics: PSAT – 2, SAT – 3
- Writing: PSAT – 1, SAT – 3 (including the Essay)
- The SAT also has 1 experimental section (you won’t know which section is experimental) that doesn’t count towards your score.
Difficulty Level: SAT Math is a bit tougher than PSAT Math. It includes more Algebra II material.
Do you have any other questions about the PSAT? If yes, go ahead and post them below! Don't forget to like us on Facebook for the latest SAT/ACT tips, strategies, and news!
Image Source: Times.com
I am pleased to bring you another guest blog from Study in the USA. Enjoy!
Education and college fairs are a great resource for students and their parents. Attending fairs allows students a chance to speak directly with representatives of U.S. colleges, universities, boarding schools, summer schools and language programs. You can visit each school's booth, talk with people who teach and work there, and take home brochures and school applications.
Study in the USA participates in dozens of fairs during both the spring and fall fairs seasons, so we asked some of our fairs representatives what advice they have for students planning to attend an international education fair. Here are the guidelines they shared:
Before the Fair
- Spend some time looking at the fair's list of participating schools (the fair organizers usually post this list on their website prior to the fairs.)
- Decide on the booths you would like to visit - there won't be time to speak with everyone.
- Research the schools that are of interest to you. The fair representatives are a valuable resource, so you'll want to save their expertise for the questions that you are not able to find the answers to online. The representatives are usually trying to talk with as many students as possible, so they will have a limited amount of time to speak with you.
- Prepare a list of specific questions you would like to ask at the fair. These should be questions that are specific to your needs and interests. The time you will have to speak with each representative may be limited, so try not to ask questions that can be easily answered through research on the school's website or in literature. If you can't find the answers in your online research, or if you would like to have the information you've found online elaborated on, these are the perfect questions to bring to the fairs.
- Keep a notebook. You may want to keep a notebook and compare notes with your friends before and after the fair. This will allow you to make the most of your time at the fair and to come away with the most valuable information possible.
- Attend a virtual fair. One way to research and prepare for your college education is through virtual fairs such as CollegeWeekLive. CollegeWeekLive is an online college fair that hosts events, live chats and "How To" presentations via video year round. You can attend a CollegeWeekLive fair from anywhere in the world as long as you have access to a computer - all you need to do is sign up. By attending one of these virtual fairs you can not only learn more about the process of finding a school that is right for you, you can also use virtual fairs as practice for when you attend an international education fair in person.
Define your financial needs. As a student, you will need to take all living expenses - not just school tuition costs - into consideration. The following should be taken into account:
- School application fees
- Student visa fees
- Admissions & language testing costs
- Air fare
- Other transportation costs
- Accommodations costs
- Daily meal costs
- Recreation costs
Before attending a fair, try to estimate what your total education costs will be so you will know whether or not you need to ask questions about scholarships and financial assistance.
At the Fair
- Visit the booths you have previously selected.
- Introduce yourself (and your parents, if they are with you) to the school representative and ask your questions.
- If you aren't sure what to ask, let the representative know what your education and financial needs are and they should be able to guide you in the right direction. The representatives are also sensitive to the fact that this may be your first time at a fair, so there's no need to be nervous.
- Gather brochures, magazines, view books and other materials at the booths.
- Attend information sessions, workshops, lectures, etc., at the fairs. These are very important as many of your basic questions can be answered during these sessions.
- Important tip: When you talk to a school representative at the fair, he or she will likely ask you to fill out an information card. In order to save time, bring along pre-printed address labels that include your first and last name, mailing address, phone number, email address and major interest. This will save you a lot of valuable fair time!
- Be respectful of the representative's time and of your fellow students. Try not to hold up the line for too long if there are people waiting behind you. If you have a general question, allow the representative to answer you in a way that includes those waiting behind you.
After the Fair
- Review information, such as Study in the USA magazines and school catalogs
- Send an email or a thank you note to the school representative to show you're interested in the school and as a way of obtaining additional information if needed.
- Apply to the schools that best match your needs!
Image Sources: Courtesy of Study in the USA
Did you know that more students took the ACT than SAT last year? Many students ask me which test they should take – SAT or ACT. I usually tell my students to at least try both tests – you never know which one you might do better on.
Here are four reasons to consider taking the ACT:
1. Strong math and science focus
Unlike the SAT, the ACT offers those students who are stronger in the math and sciences a chance to shine. The ACT tests for a number of topics that are not covered by the SAT. While the SAT’s math section covers arithmetic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability; the ACT tests these topics and more including: trigonometry, logarithms, complex numbers, matrices, and circle and ellipses equations. Additionally, the ACT has a science section which allows students to demonstrate their scientific interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem solving skills.
2. Accepted by all four-year Colleges & Universities in the United States
I get a lot of questions from my students about who accepts the ACT and whether a good ACT score is comparable to a good SAT score. Don’t believe the hype about “good schools” only accepting the SAT. All four-year colleges accept both the ACT and the SAT. Admissions officers also weigh both tests evenly. In fact 13% of applicants to Princeton last year submitted only ACT scores.
3. NO penalty for wrong answers
Your score on the ACT is completely based on the number of correct answers you get. There is no penalty for wrong answers. (Remember, on the SAT you get a ¼ point deducted for a wrong answer)
4. Less emphasis on difficult vocabulary and essays
Another reason to consider the ACT is the fact that the essay is optional. Not all colleges require a writing test for admission, so students who may not do their best writing under timed conditions can opt out. Before you opt out double check the writing test requirements of the schools you plan to apply to. If you do choose to do the essay section, ACT essay topics are more relatable to your daily high-school life, while SAT topics ask you to write about more philosophical matters.
Enjoyed these tips? Try our ACT free trial today and make the most of our Halloween offer as well!
Image Sources: Top image courtesy of the NYTimes; Bottom image courtesy of TestRocker
Scores on the SAT and ACT have been steadily declining. As reported earlier this year by Inside Higher Ed, 2013 ACT scores are at the lowest they have been in the past five years. SAT scores have followed a similar downward trend, plateauing this year after two years of steady declines. With the recent news about student scores it’s no wonder that both students and their parents feel nervous about the test. The key to walking into the test with confidence is addressing the following causes of test-prep fear.
Fear of the Unknown
Many students can recall how nervous they were the first time they sat down to take the SAT or ACT. The SAT/ACT is one of the few times that students will be asked to sit and take a test for 3+ hours. These tests are made even more stressful because they test for material in ways that are not intuitive to most students.
Conquer this fear by:
- Visiting your testing center ahead of time to get familiar with your testing environment
- Remembering to bring layers and a snack with you on test day to increase your level of comfort in an unfamiliar environment.
- Familiarizing yourself with the test's content and test-taking strategies before taking practice tests. Practice will then allow you to build the stamina, speed, and time management skills you need to do well!
Fear of Bad Scores
Everyone has a fear of failure. For high school students failure can be as simple as getting a “good score” that falls short of their target score. According to a College Board study, students across a number of GPA ranges fall at least 300 points short of their expected SAT score. The fear students have of not doing as well on the SAT/ACT is legitimate.
Conquer this fear by:
- Preparing sufficiently for your chosen college admissions exam. If you are not quite sure where to start, take our free assessment and schedule a personal consultation to figure out your strengths and weaknesses and how to conquer them.
Fear of the changing definition of a “Good Score”
This year US News and World Reports changed their college rankings methodology. The importance of class ranking was reduced and the importance of SAT and ACT scores increased. This was done in order to reflect the change in the weight that the colleges themselves were placing on test scores.
Conquer this fear by:
- Doing your research for each of the school’s on your list. Use resources like the Fiske Guide and school-specific websites to find out the SAT or ACT score range for the previous year’s accepted applicants.
Want to learn more about how TestRocker takes the fright out of the SAT/ACT? Check out our Halloween offer today! Not sure whether you should take the SAT or ACT? Download our flyer to figure it out!
It's time to gear up for the first SAT of the year! One of the reasons I wanted to create TestRocker was to ease the anxiety normally associated with standardized test-prep. Below check out the guest blog we wrote for CollegeMapper, it has a number of great tips from me about staying relaxed on test day.
It’s officially back to school season and if you are a HS junior, senior, or academically ambitious sophomore that means you are probably getting ready to take the October SAT. While everyone knows they need to study, TestRocker wanted to tell you about the other things you should be doing on test day to get ready.
Before the Test
Many of us are procrastinators, for the SAT you might want to break this habit. Don’t cram and engage in any of the activities that often accompany cramming. Don’t drink energy drinks or neglect to get enough sleep. Energy drinks have been shown to hamper both memory and focus. Instead do some light review and relax.
This means more than just making sure you’ve spent at least 30 hours reviewing SAT material. The night before your SAT gather all of the materials you anticipate needing and place them into the bag you plan to bring with you the next day. The following things should be included: SAT admission ticket, valid form of government-issued photo ID, calculator, extra batteries, 6-8 #2 pre-sharpened pencils, snacks, and a bottle of water.
Dress for Success
In a professional setting the phrase, “dress for success”, means getting into a stuffy suit. In this instance, we mean the exact opposite. Wear clothes that you are comfortable in. You also may want to dress in layers, including a sweater and even a light jacket. You don’t want to be distracted by your testing room’s temperature.
For the SAT essay’s graders, it will be hard to grade an illegible essay. Be sure to use your neatest handwriting. Also be sure that you are clearly filling in the scantron when taking the SAT. To make filling in the scantron easier we recommend using sharpened pencils and not mechanical pencils.
Keep track of skipped questions
On the math section, answer the first ten questions in the test booklet and then fill in your answer sheet. Afterwards fill in your answers by page, being sure to note that the answers to any questions you skip are still empty. As time winds down fill in answers as you finish answering the question.
During the test you want to be as focused as possible. Limit your bathroom breaks to the two scheduled breaks. During these breaks remember not to discuss your answers with other students.
Make the Most of Your Breaks
Remember when we urged you to pack snacks. Use your break time to visit the bathroom, refill on water, and eat your snack. Not quite sure what to pack? Try a chocolate bar – they provide instant energy!
Take some time and relax, before conquering the next item on your to do list!
Planning to take the SAT or ACT again in the near future? Sign up for one of our FREE personal consultations to learn how TestRocker helps you get your dream score.
We live in a rankings obsessed society. We rank cities, professional athletes, students and even our nation’s premier institutions – colleges and universities. Which is why it makes sense that it was such big news when US News & World Reports released their 2014 ranking of the top US colleges and universities. Looking at the list there weren’t many surprises; schools like Harvard, Stanford and Princeton continued to occupy a place near the top of the list. What might be of greater interest is the way the rankings’ methodology has changed.
More weight was given to SAT and ACT scores in this year’s rankings. According to a blog by Robert Morse, Director of Data Research for U.S. News & World Report, “the weight of SAT and ACT scores rises from 50 percent to 65 percent”. On the other hand, high school class standing has been dropped from 40% to 25%, to highlight the decreasing importance of class rank, which many students don’t even report on their transcripts.
The increased weight of SAT and ACT scores within the rankings is due to the fact that colleges are stressing the importance of high admissions test scores, a trend also reflected by the admissions officers polled in NACAC’s 2012 “State of College Admission” report. NACAC’s 2011 SOCA report states the following, “The top factors in the admission decision were (in order): grades in college preparatory courses, strength of curriculum, standardized admission test scores, and overall high school grade point average.”
What are the implications of these revised rankings for students? The major implication of this change is that SAT and ACT test scores continue to matter. While some schools are moving away from using standardized tests to measure student performance, many others are only increasing their emphasis on the minimum SAT and ACT scores required for admission. As annoying as it may be, it’s important for students to do what it takes to ace the test!
The good news is that students can improve their scores with regular practice. Having the opportunity to get familiar with SAT questions before the test helps students stay calm and take the test with increased confidence. Practice also allows students to figure out how to answer questions quickly. One of the biggest obstacles of the SAT/ACT is the race against the clock to finish the test on time!
According to primary research* conducted by TestRocker Inc, students rated ‘increases confidence’ and ‘clears up hazy concepts’ as their top criteria when selecting a test prep service. We created TestRocker to do just that! In fact our students have seen up to a 400 point improvement on the SAT. Bottom line is its important to start preparing early, and preparation is the key to increasing confidence.
Don’t forget to leave us a comment. What do you think of the change in methodology?
*Research was conducted via GMI research with 601 respondents to our survey
Image Sources: abovethelaw.com, US News & World Reports